Why Learn Palestinian Arabic?
There are of course many practical reasons to learn Arabic, either Modern Standard or a particular dialect. Choosing where to do so though can be a difficult choice, especially in this age were the options are plentiful. Given that continual practice is such an important aspect of learning any language, one of the best ways to master any language is to do so in country by becoming fully immersed in the language. With its dialect that can be spoken in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, combined with the opportunity to experience a part of the world that is so often spoken about yet misunderstood, Palestine is the perfect option for anyone wanting to Arabic.
To help inspire you to learn Palestinian Arabic, here are some of the top reasons why coming to the Holy Land to master the Arabic language is definitely the right choice for you.
1. The Arabic Language Itself
In Palestine, you have the option of learning Modern Standard or the Levantine dialect as it is known. As with many languages, modern standard represents the benchmark; in this case, the Arabic that is known across the Islamic world. However, like all languages, dialects are generally the norm.
Learning the Levantine dialect is advantageous as it is not only your passport to a more fulfilling experience in Palestine, but also in neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon, and, if you’re brave and wanting to live on the edge, Syria. Given the travel possibilities of these countries, the job opportunities, and the chance to experience so much of human history, being able to speak the Levantine dialect is definitely a serious plus!
2. Demystifying Palestine
People are generally always interested in Palestine, or the West Bank, and the region is a common topic in many social science university courses, with the occupation being a major topic of discussion on university campuses, within government and NGO circles, and on news broadcasts. Unfortunately though, to say that this conflict is polarizing is a gross understatement. One of the consequences of this polarization has been an ideological saturation of the conflict into abstract religious, political, and social narratives that instead of seeking to present a nuanced view of the conflict, are instead devoted to their narratives at all costs.
Coming to Palestine, therefore, to learn Palestinian Arabic is one of the best ways to see the conflict first hand, and to importantly see the human faces on all sides that exist behind the narratives and ideologies that filter our perceptions back home. While everyone will have their opinion, learning Arabic in Palestine, in places such as Nablus or Hebron, will inevitably give you an accurate perspective of the region and its people.
3. The Culture, History, & Natural Beauty
Not only will spending time learning Arabic in Palestine help counteract the suffocating ideologies that shape global perceptions to this conflict, but coming here and experiencing the region’s history, culture, and natural beauty will present another side to Palestine and Palestinians that gets missed amongst the news stories and headlines that only focus on the conflict.
Palestine, existing at the crossroads and being the site of some of mankind’s greatest Empires and religious movements, is a region where one can’t help but be immersed in humanity’s tumultuous and glorious history. From ancient Canaanite ruins to Roman and Greek remains to Crusader castles and places of immense sacred importance, Palestine is a testament to humanity in all its wonders.
Not only this, the Palestinian culture, despite the challenges it has faced, is probably one of the greatest prizes for any traveller to this region. Their hospitality has been a constant part of the cultural fabric of the land, just like the olive trees that cover the hills. All this in a landscape that has inspired prophets and Empires, makes learning Arabic in Palestine more than just a language course in foreign country; it can become a journey into some of the most interesting pages in human history.
4. The Palestinian People
As alluded to above, Palestinian hospitality is more than just a gimmick to help tourists part with their money. It is a way of life, sown into the fabric of Palestinian culture, and to fully understand it, it has to be experienced. With this, being able to learn Palestinian Arabic surrounded by such hospitable people ensures the experience is easily continued out of the classroom.
Palestinians are always welcoming and helpful, and helping a foreigner master their language over a coffee or food is just part of learning the language in this part of the world.
There are, of course, many options as to where to learn Arabic abroad, but no other country can really compete with Palestine. While the occupation is enough to turn people away from this option, the reality is that the news and narratives we get in the West are filtered toward serving a purpose, no matter whose side you feel you are on. Taking Arabic courses in Palestine is not just an adventure for the extremely brave tourist, and your time will not be spent dodging Israeli bullets and mad terrorists. While the occupation is certainly unsustainable and a serious moral challenge to Israel and a challenge and impediment to Palestinian life, it is not the constant battering ram we think of while being at home.
The simple fact is that behind the filters, Palestine is a land with so much to give, it is a land that puts on display humanity in all its greatness and faults, and a land that continues to amaze the world, in large part because of the Palestinians themselves. Learning Arabic in Palestine is, therefore, so much more than an opportunity to learn another language; it will provide the means to learn an entirely new worldview.
This article was contributed by The Excellence Center in Palestine, a training center that is fully licensed by the Palestinian Ministry of Education. Providing a variety of courses for the local community, The Excellence Center is also dedicated to introducing foreign students to the Arabic language, culture, and way of life through immersive program opportunities.